Marker honors educator

On Oct.3, the Augusta African American Historical Society unveiled a historic monument honoring Augustus R. Johnson in front of the school bearing his name. It replaced a marker previously destroyed when it was struck by a car.

Augustus R. Johnson was born and raised in Augusta, where he earned degrees from Morehouse College, which was founded at Augusta’s Springfield Baptist Church. Johnson was also the first African American with a licensed to teach by the State of Georgia and paid by the State School Fund.

The A.R. Johnson marker. Maxwell Shaffer/Augusta Good News

“Since becoming a member of the Augusta African American Historical Society, I got to see just how important A.R. Johnson was to the Augusta education system,” said Russell Joel Brown, a historical society board member. “The way he dedicated his life to educate children in one area is truly amazing.”

Johnson worked in the Augusta Public School System for 40 years, where he took on a pivotal role. Johnson became the principal of the first grammar school in Augusta for African American children, and later he became principal for what many believe to be the largest grammar school in the Georgia system, Mauge Street School.

“A.R. Johnson is a person worthy of being studied and ultimately celebrated,” said Brown. “I am glad this monument was re-erected today to make sure that anyone walking down the street can get to know who he was.”

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Many notable African Americans have graduated from Morehouse College including Martin Luther King Jr., Spike Lee and Samuel L. Jackson. Brown shared what an opportunity to speak at this monument unveiling meant to him, because he also graduated from Morehouse College.

“This opportunity means a lot to me, because I was able to bring forth some of th same things that A.R. Johnson had at Morehouse, that I got to have and learn,” said Brown, “I endeavor everyday to live a life to be committed to the community just like A.R. Johnson once did.”

This monument is one of 27 monuments honoring and celebrating historical African Americans in the Augusta area. These monuments can be seen on either side of Laney Walker Boulevard.

Russell Joel Brown speaking at the unveiling. Maxwell Shaffer/Augusta Good News

“This is the next monument in sort of a larger picture,” said Corey Rogers, Augusta African American Historical Society president. “We want to keep putting up monument after monument until people will have to stop and pay attention to the history and culture of this area.”

The Augusta African American Historical Society hopes to have in total 50 monuments to celebrate historical African Americans from the Augusta area. The next two monuments will be for John Wesley Gilbert, Paine College’s first graduate and the first African American archeologist, and noted educator and principal Ursula Collins.

For more information with The Augusta African American Historical Society, call Corey Rogers at (706) 495-6903 or visit

Maxwell Shaffer is an Augusta University student and features correspondent for Augusta Good News. To subscribe to the Augusta Good News newsletter, click here.

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